Patt Morrison for July 12, 2011

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Sarah Palin: “I can win.” Can she?

Love her or hate her, one has to admire Sarah Palin’s self confidence and self promotion—just when you think she’s out of the nation’s political consciousness and off of the 2012 Republican primary radar, she jumps back into the spotlight. Featured on the front page of Newsweek the former governor of Alaska still hedges on whether she’ll enter the Republican primary but she does believe that she can win: “I'm not so egotistical as to believe that it has to be me, or it can only be me, to turn things around.... But I do believe that I can win.” Critics of Palin will probably write this off as a delusional claim, but at a time of high unemployment, bitter partisan rancor in Washington over the debt ceiling and budget deficit and unprecedented power for fiscal conservatives (mostly the Tea Party) can a Sarah Palin candidacy be written off? Supporters who back Palin tend to have a deep emotional connection with her and her outside-the-beltway appeal could look very attractive after a savage year of politics, and an unpopular incumbent president. So Palin haters will roll their eyes at her latest declaration, but don’t dismiss it so quickly—could Sarah Palin win?

Study finds better food options do not mean healthier community

Despite data that have driven public policy decisions over the last several decades, a new study finds access to supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods does not necessarily result in healthier diet choices.
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When the 405 is shut down late on Friday night one kind of traffic jam will be replaced by another: gone will be the gridlock of commuters, beach-goers, LAX-bound travelers and other Angelenos who crawl up the dreaded but vital stretch of highway. In their place will be thousands of construction workers with their dump trucks, bulldozers, demolishers, cranes and more equipment to create a traffic jam of an entirely different kind. An orchestrated dance of workers and trucks will take place over 53 hours on a 405 freeway that will be anything but dormant, even as it’s closed off to the roughly half a million cars that would normally be using it this weekend. A bridge connecting two sides of Mulholland Blvd. over the Sepulveda pass will be demolished, cracks in the road will be repaired, guard rails will be replaced and moved around and maintenance projects of all kinds will be carried out over two days. The freeway is scheduled to completely reopen by 6am Monday, but if not the contractor carrying out the work will be fined roughly $72,000 per hour the 405 remains closed. We pull back the curtain on CAR-MAGEDDON to give you peak of a weekend on the closed but busy 405.
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Rupert Murdoch’s media empire was in the spotlight again yesterday when accusations that two more of his newspapers engaged in hacking and privacy violations that included paying Queen Elizabeth II’s bodyguards for secret information about the monarch’s movements and accessing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s bank accounts and medical records of his young son. This follows reports that Murdoch’s News International minions breached the privacy of thousands, including the phone records of politicians and even the families and victims of 911. Brits and Murdoch watchers are further shocked that five senior investigators with the venerable Scotland Yard have been implicated in the story; evidence shows the officers’ own phones were hacked in 2006 by The News of the World reporters and incriminating personal information found. This raises the question of whether senior criminal investigators had concerns that if they aggressively investigated the paper they would be punished with splashy stories about their secrets, some of which were tabloid-ready. The tentacles of Murdoch’s influence seem to reach even to the highest political offices in the United Kingdom, and the extent of his influence is just coming to light. What does this mean for the mega-empire that Murdoch has built and the politicians who played his game? And what about the people without influence of their own – does their personal privacy warrant protection?
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Sacramento, much like Washington D.C., can be a vicious place where the players have long memories. Just ask Anthony Portantino: the Democratic assembly member representing Pasadena was the lone Democrat to vote against the majority budget that was eventually passed into law last month and as a result, he claims, he’s having his staff budget slashed. The Assembly Rules Committee informed Assemblymember Portantino late last week that his budget will be cut and that his Capitol and district staff could be placed on unpaid leave for more than a month in the fall. Portantino’s Democratic colleagues claim that everyone’s budget has been cut and that Portantino took no actions to reduce his expenditures. On the flip side there’s a history of retribution in Sacramento when a lawmaker bucks the party establishment—committee posts are taken away, members are moved to smaller offices. Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, the chair of the Rules Committee, called Portantino “a bit paranoid” and said that his office budget was $67,179 in deficit. Portantino has until the end of this week to give a plan on how he’ll balance his staff budget. Is this old fashioned payback or simply the new era of scaled back budgets?
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When researchers at Southern Methodist University put microphones in the households of 37 families the intent wasn’t to study spanking or corporal punishment—the original aim was to study yelling with voluntary audio recordings of parents conducting life at home. What came back were dozens of instances of smacks and slaps, followed by the crying of little kids who had just been spanked by their parents. Children were spanked for a variety of reasons: not cleaning up their rooms, fighting with siblings, not following their bed time routines. Some of the spanking was for seemingly small infractions (repeatedly turning the pages of a book too soon) and sometimes there was a cruel irony to the spanking (a parent upset at siblings physically fighting with each other doles out corporal punishment), but no matter the justification the spanking was fairly consistent. Even as society has done its best to move away from spanking there are still plenty of parents who feel it’s an acceptable form of discipline. The same lead researcher on this audio study has conducted previous research showing that 70% of college-educated women spank their children and up to 90% of all parents use some form of corporal punishment. While positive discipline might be all the rage, children are still getting spanked and for the most part parents still feel it’s an acceptable form of controlling and teaching their kids. If microphones were to be placed in your home, would they catch you spanking your child? Is it something that parents should be ashamed of, or did parents of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s have the right idea about the effectiveness of a swift spank on the backside to deter bad behavior?
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